by Herman Hesse

for the Unknown.

As every flower fades and every youth
Withers into old age, so each stage of life blooms,
Each shining wisdom and each virtue in its time.
But it cannot last forever.
The heart must in every stage
Be prepared for a parting and a new beginning
With bravery and no grief.
It must surrender to new beginnings and know
That in every beginning lives a magician
Who protects and gives life a helping hand.

We should wander cheerfully through room after room
Hanging around nowhere as if it is our home.
The world spirit, seeking to widen us, not hold us in a corner,
Wants us to have room to move from stage to stage.
Hardly are we at home with a way of living
And cozily settled in, than drowsiness threatens
And we are ready to leave,
Feeling like we are held by some paralyzing trap.

Perhaps it will still be so at death's door, and
We will be sent again as a young into new rooms,
The call of life never ending...

Where to then, Heart?
Take your leave and fare the well!

- a free translation by Mike Metras of Herman Hesse's Stufen

Click here to read the original poem Stufen by Herman Hesse in German.

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Copyright © 2001, 2008 Mike Metras,